Today is the third anniversary of the day I started Positively Present. When I look back on the years since I started this site, it's hard not to marvel at all that has changed in my life -- the people, the places, the things I have done and seen. Every day I love my life more and I know that has a great deal to do with Positively Present, the words I write, and the connections I share with my readers. I'm so happy to have had the experiences I've had over the past year, and I'm even more thrilled to know that the next year is going to be a great one for Positively Present.
In honor of the past year of Positively Present, I'm going to share with you the life lessons I've loved learning over the past 365 days. It's been a wonderful, exciting year and I've learned a lot. In honor of Valentine's Day (I haven't forgotten about you in the excitement of Positively Present's anniversary!), I'm going to share with you why I've loved these life lessons (hard as some of them have been!) and how you can apply them to your life as well.
Lessons I Loved Learning This Year on Positively Present
♥ Loss makes life more precious. Last month a woman who had been like a mother to me passed away. The loss of her made me realize that life is precious and fleeting and it's so important that we celebrate each and every day. In Celebrate Life: How to Cope with Grief + Loss, I wrote about how we can take loss and turn it into a reminder to celebrate life. Though it's not always easy to do when caught up in the mundane, everyday stuff, it's so essential to remind yourself that life is short. Don't take it -- or the people you love -- for granted.
♥ Doing good makes you feel good. This year I started volunteering with my local humane society and it made me realize that volunteer work really does make you feel good. In 5 Ways You'll Feel Good By Doing Good, I wrote about how donating your time to a cause you feel passionate about can really make you feel good. It might seem hard to make time for volunteer work, but this year I realized how important it is -- and how much you can learn about yourself from dedicating your time to others. Find a cause you love and get involved!
♥ Taking pics helps me stay present. In September I participated in my first photo challenge. In November I created a Gratitude Photo Challenge. In December, feeling lost without a daily photo to snap, I created a Christmas Photo Challenge. And in 2012, I launched the 365 Photo Project. Clearly, I learned that taking a photo a day really does help me to stay more present and more observant of the world around me. Join in on the 365 Photo Project and you'll see how you can be more present too. To see my daily shots, follow me on Instagram @happilyeverafternow.
♥ Some friendships aren't forever. In the posts Best Friends Forever?: Lessons on Friendship (click to read Part I, Part II, and Part III), I realized friendships don't always last forever. This can be a really hard thing to cope with, but it's a lesson I'm glad I'm learning. I've discovered that it's all about how you look at it. You can either be happy you had the friendship and move on, or dwell on the reasons why the friendship is over (or isn't what it used to be). This lesson also taught me to appreciate the friendships I do have and focus on the positive people in my life. Focus on who matters most in this moment.
♥ I can pick the weeds + keep the flowers. Back in July I celebrated one year of sobriety (and I'm still counting today! 19 months!). Reaching this milestone in my life was a huge deal for me and it was a great accomplishment. It made me realize that I'm stronger than I think I am sometimes and it also made me see that sometimes the things you never believe are possible really are attainable goals. Whatever you're struggling to overcome, remind yourself that you can do it. Whatever you want to overcome, you have the strength within you to do it.
♥ Bucket lists can transform a year. When I turned 28 I resolved to accomplish quite a few things before my next birthday (see the list of 28 Things To Do Before I Turn 29). So I've crossed about half of those things off and I still have 8 months to go! In the past I've been hesitant about creating lists like this (what if I don't cross anything off??), but this one has taught me that setting goals (even small ones) is really motivating. If you haven't done so already, I'd recommend creating a list of things to check off before your next birthday!
♥ Life's too short to settle. Back in October everywhere we looked we saw inspiration from Steve Jobs. That man really left his mark on the world and his words left a mark on me. In Don't Settle: Inspiration from Steve Jobs, I took a closer look at some of his words of wisdom and realized how powerful they are. Though I've heard it before, Jobs' "don't settle" really resonated with me this year and served as the gentle push I needed to keep moving forward with my goals. Listen to Jobs and don't settle for anything less than what you love.
♥ The dream of the '90s is, in fact, still alive in Portland. Last autumn I visited Portland for the first time (you can read about my travels here) and fell in love with the charming city. Though I don't think I could ever handle the amount of rainfall there, I definitely fell in love with the place and was grateful to have been given the opportunity to visit. The trip reminded me to get out there and see new places, to travel and experience different people and environments. Don't forget to get out there and explore!
♥ A lot can happen in 10 years, but some memories don't fade. With the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I reflected on September 11, 2001. It was sad to look back on that day, to recall the fevered emotions and the shock of shattered safety. Looking back on it made me realize how a single moment can impact a life and how, though we move forward, we don't always forget. Living in the present is essential for living a positive life but so is remembering the past -- and how far we've come since then.
♥ Planning is part of kicking off a great year. In January I gave my readers the Positively Present Planner to help them kick off 2012 (and you can still download a free copy for yourself!). I've always been into organizing and planning, but this year I've had to be even more of a planner. I have a feeling that 2012 is going to be a big year for a lot of people and that means getting a good plan in place now. Use the planner (or any other tools at your disposal) to kick 2012 into high gear and turn those goals and dreams into realities!
♥ A lifelong dream can come true. I'm on the verge of achieving my lifelong dream: to be a writer. In Achieving a Goal Isn't Magic: 4 Tips to Make it Happen, I realized that my dreams might actually be coming true. I've taken some major steps this year to make Positively Present my full-time gig and though in some senses I'm terrified (see 2012: So Much to Do, Such Things to Be), I'm also thrilled to be given this opportunity to turn my life into what I've always imagined. 2012 is gonna be a goal-setting, dream-reaching, amazing year so set your hopes high and get to work!
I've learned a lot since last February 14, but I think one of the most important lessons I've learned is how important a love of learning actually is. If you want to live a positively present life, you have to be ready and willing to learn -- and to embrace those learned lessons and apply them to your life. A love of learning is essential to seeing the good in even the most difficult situations. Regardless of how positive or negative a situation is, there's a lesson to be learned from it. Look for those lessons. Love those lessons.